Ask Adrian: Our technology editor tackles your trickiest tech problems
Question: Help! I still haven't gotten my son anything for his New Year's Day birthday. He's coming home for a week from Australia to spend time with us and I'd love to get him something nice. I was thinking of something techie but haven't the faintest idea about what is a good 'general' present in the tech space. I know it's last minute, but any idea? I'm not loaded!
If he's coming home from Australia, I take it that he's a young adult, in his twenties or thirties. With the usual qualifications around budget limits, there are lots of tech-related things you could look at that are still available in shops and would make handy general gifts. Here are a few I've spotted.
1 Belkin 10,000 (€35 from Littlewoods)
This is something that almost anyone with a smartphone or a tablet can use, especially someone who might want to use it over a really long journey without access to a charger. Belkin's portable 10,000mAh power pack is small enough to fit into any bag but has enough reserve in it to charge your iPhone or Android phone twice over, or a tablet fully once. It also has two charging ports in case a friend needs a hand, too. Just plug your normal charging cable from your phone into this gizmo and your phone will start recharging.
2 Nokia 8110 (€79 from Carphone Warehouse)
I haven't recommended any smartphones to you because a) most of them are expensive and b) your son probably has his favourite make and model himself. But Nokia's new 8110 4G phone is quite a cool and cute present and qualifies as an interesting 'second phone'. The handset, which comes in yellow or black, is reminiscent of the classic 'Matrix' phone, with a small colour screen and button operation. You'll only need to charge this once every three or four days. With basic internet and a very basic camera, it can also use a very limited version of Facebook. Crucially, it's also very affordable.
3 Sony 1000XM2 headphones (€219 from Currys/PCWorld)
If you have a bit more to spend, this is a gift that anyone would appreciate, especially someone getting on a plane. Sony's XM2 headphones have incredible sound quality and amazing noise-cancelling technology, which blocks out the majority of any external din going on. On a plane, this is really useful as it helps you to sleep or cut out unwelcome background noise, such as infants crying. The way the technology works is that the headphones measure the sound around you and are then able to turn the specific audio frequencies back on one another, thus 'cancelling' out the noise to your ear. There is a newer model available from Sony (the XM3), but they're over €100 more expensive.
4 Fujifilm Mini 9 (€79 from Harvey Norman)
Maybe an instant camera might make a good, fun gift? If you look at the figures, it seems that instant cameras have made a bit of a revival and are being embraced particularly by young people. Fujifilm is probably the best brand in this space at the moment.
Its basic model, the Instax Mini 9 comes with a free roll of film (10 photos). The photos that come out of it are pretty small - 2.4 inches by 1.8 inches. But they have a nice big white border and are fun to stick on copybooks or doors of bedroom desks. Replacement film comes in packs of 20 for €25. If you want something that produces slightly bigger prints, the same company's Instax Square SQ6 prints off 2.4-inch by 2.4-inch photos and is a little more stylish (but costs around €50 more).
If you want to go all out, the Instax SQ20 (€199 from Conns Camera and the Camera Centre) takes the core of the instant camera and adds a screen to the back. This means that you can preview your photo before printing, or even pick a frame from a video you record and print that. It also lets you 'zoom' (although it's a digital zoom). The SQ20 prints off square 2.4-inch photos.
5 HP Sprocket 200 (€129 from Currys)
Sticking with the photo theme, this is a quirky gift that most people will try at least once. Printing photos is a bit of a pain, whether it's a trip to the pharmacy machine or trying to hook up a home printer. HP's Sprocket goes one further than an 'instant' camera - it's a pocket printer that prints directly from your phone's camera library.
The 2in x 3in photos can also be printed directly from your Instagram or Facebook accounts. The prints (which come in packs of 20 for €12.99) also have peel-off backs to make them into stickers.
6 Nextbase 512GW dashcam (€149 from Littlewoods)
It might seem like a funny one as a gift, but if your son drives, he might appreciate it. A lot of people are getting dashcams for security and utility.
These gadgets sit beside your windscreen and record what's going on in case there's an accident. In Ireland, insurance companies are even starting to give discounts for using them.
Nextbase's 512GW is as good as you can get, with very good HD recording, a three-inch monitor and a 140-degree recording angle meaning that it captures most everything in front of it. It also has GPS and supports 128GB memory cards.
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